As the end of summer quickly approaches, consider—if you haven’t already—the accomplishments you achieved over the last three years as a communications sciences and disorders undergrad. Then set your goals for the semester ahead—AKA, first semester of senior year—dun, dun, dun!
Your to-do list includes graduate school applications, clinical and school placements, classes, exams, and perhaps work. The summer before the last year as a CSD undergraduate student provides crucial prep time.
When I first started school, I presumed opportunities would knock on my door. I quickly learned achieving my goal involved knocking on opportunity’s door. Get proactive about determining what kind of individual, student and (some-day) clinician you want to be.
I hope sharing my summer-before-senior-year checklist helps you feel more empowered about where you’re going next. So do some diaphragmatic breathing, relax, and here we go:
- Take your GRE. Prep for it. Take it early. Avoid extra stress during the school year. Maximize summer free time to take it over and over.
- Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD) prep for the two teaching certification tests: Educating All Students (EAS) and the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST), if you are interested in pursuing this certification. I’m currently studying to take at least one of these tests by the end of the summer or early fall.
- Start your personal essay. Draft it, write it, read it a hundred times and then ask teachers, friends, neighbors and family members to read it. Keep perfecting it like a masterpiece in progress—as I tell myself.
- Start your résumé. See the above steps for refining your personal essay and apply them to your résumé. Take advantage of numerous resources for writing a good resume.
- Make a list of graduate schools that interest you and schedule tours. I looked at 12 different programs—probably a hundred times each—and made outlines of requirements, admissions information and contacts. Use ASHA’s EdFind. It really makes life a lot easier.
- Brush up on concepts and knowledge you previously learned. On my list is comfort with phonetics, different available assessments and treatment resources, the phonological processes, the early language development milestones, as well as anatomy and physiology. I want to be ready to use this when I start working with clients in the fall.
- Take time to enjoy yourself. I love learning new things, so I decided to enroll in an American Sign Language course. I love how expressive signing is. Additionally, take some time to enjoy the sunlight and get outdoors. Good physical health helps support mental and emotional health.
My final advice? Get involved! Can you join a National Student Speech Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter? Are you interested in a specific population or disorder? See what you can do to make a difference in the area or ask a professor you like and respect if you can work together on relevant research. Make yourself stand out.
Finally, if you aren’t an organized person—change your habits. Taking the time to get organized and manage tasks saves me time and prevents me from feeling overloaded. Becoming organized is a process, so I suggest buying a planner or an app and marking off big days on the calendar to better stay on track. Hang in there, do not give up, keep fighting to reach your goals, and good luck this upcoming year!
Do you want to share any advice for handling your senior year as a CSD undergrad? Offer tips in the comment sections below.
Lisa-Marie Serrone is an undergraduate student in communication sciences and disorders at Pace University. firstname.lastname@example.org